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California Genealogy and History Archives


San Bernardino County


Melvin F. and Jeannett R. Larson

Melvin was born in Stanley, North Dakota, on Oct. 18, 1920, and Jeannette Azzaro was born halfway around the world in Tunisia, North Africa, on Aug. 13, 1924. They met in North Africa, during WWII while Mel was serving in the Army and it was love at first sight. They both ended up at the enlisted men's club that night to listen to the big band and try to get a break from the war. Jeannette saw a soldier passed out on a bench. She took pity on him, sat down, put his head in her lap, and Mel always said he opened his eyes and saw an angel. After volunteering for 4 tour of duty extensions, Mel was finally able to bring his bride home in 1946. They settled down in Portland, Ore., and brought their daughter, Wanda, into the world. Mel owned a real estate company, and Jan ran an amazing home. She was famous for her culinary skills, her beautiful gardens and her giving, generous heart – and her love of Christmas. No one that knew Jeannette will ever forget her amazing decorations and homemade Christmas cookies that she distributed to absolutely everyone. Everybody loves Nana – and always has. She was not just Nana to her granddaughter; she was Nana to everyone from the moment they met her. Mel was always a loving husband and father, who was devoted to his family. His handshake was worth its weight in gold. He was the most honorable friend and businessman that anyone could ever know. They were surrounded by wonderful friends on that Clay Street block in Portland for 30 years, and all who knew them will remember those New Year's Eve parties in their home that were filled with laughter, love and Jan's delicious food. Jeanette's favorite way to show her love to others was through her food, the pinnacle of which was her cous cous – agreed upon by everyone she shared it with as the world's most perfect food. They were incredible parents, who supported Wanda, and their granddaughter Angela, in pursuit of all their dreams. That support brought them to Orange County and then to Big Bear, a community they have loved since arriving in 1995. Mel and Jan loved the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in Big Bear on May 26, 1996, with both new friends and lifelong friends from Portland who came to join in the celebration – which meant the world to them. After 64˝ years of marriage, Mel passed away on Jan. 27, 2011. Jeannette was reunited with him in Heaven on Aug. 30, 2012. They are survived by their daughter, Wanda, and their granddaughter, Angela. Mel and Jan's love conquered every challenge they faced –beginning with that first meeting and courtship, when Mel only spoke English, and Jan only spoke French. They arrived in America in 1946 with $50 and Mel's military uniform. From there, they built a life to be respected and remembered and their family has always known we were truly blessed by every moment. Mel and Jan were an example to everyone who knew them of what true partnership really meant. Words cannot express how much they are, and will always be, loved and missed.

"Big Bear Grizzly"  Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:13 am

Submitted by: Peggy Hooper